“One book at a time,” I say, staring at a stack of books. It is my new mantra. One…book…at…a…time.
I have never joined AA. Well, I don’t drink alcoholic beverages. But the AA slogan, “One Day at a Time,” is so applicable to my book addiction that I’ve adapted the catchphrase.
I have a huge stack of books on the coffee table. I am reading perhaps 10 of them. I pick up Anna Karenina, which I have read many times. On page 760, Vronsky is off to the elections in town, while Anna must stay home in the country. They almost quarrel, because she does not want to be alone. But Anna knows she has to quiet herself and not alienate him.
“I hope you won’t be dull?”
“I hope not,” replied Anna. “I received a box of books from Gautier’s yesterday.”
Anna, I received that same box of books! But it isn’t enough when your lover is gallivanting. Anna is isolated, an outcast. Her friends shun her after she leaves her husband for Vronsky. And it is sad that Dolly, Anna’s loyal sister-in-law, is repulsed when she learns that Anna practices birth control and sees how little she cares for her baby. Though Dolly is exhausted by childbearing, the idea of contraception negates her purpose in life and scares her.
THEN I TOOK A LONG AFTERNOON BREAK. And I finished East of Eden, one of most brilliant American novels I’ve ever read. You will not be able to put down this warped family saga, a 20th century take on Genesis. And, believe me, there is no scarier character in literature than Adam Trask’s manipulative wife, Cathy.
ALL RIGHT, I PUT AWAY MY BOOKS to surf the net. And I almost succumbed to an inner voice that told me to buy a new copy of Anna Karenina, a volume in the Oxford World’s Classics Hardback Collection. Fortunately, I realized in time that I already have that same translation in an Oxford hardcover with a different cover.
I made progress. I limited myself to reading from two books today instead of ten.